What is the Wesak Day Festival?
Wesak is celebrated once a year. This year, it falls on Thursday 7th May 2020. The date of Wesak changes each year based on the time of the first full moon of the ancient lunar month of Vesakha, which is usually around May or early June. Known as “Buddha Day” or “Buddha Birthday”, Wesak is celebrated by Buddhists and some Hindus in the South and Southeast Asia region.
The festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha in Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism. Even though Buddhism is not the main religion in Malaysia, Wesak Day is considered one of the national public holidays in Malaysia. This represents the multicultural element in our country! ????
The celebration of Wesak Day
The celebration usually starts early in the morning. The Buddhists will go to their local temple to stay there throughout the day and night of the full moon. The devotees will do good deeds, take part in chanting and meditation, reflect on Buddhist teachings, bring offerings to the temple, and share food with people.
Wesak Day Festival will usually include ‘bathing’ of the Buddha statue, abstaining from eating meat, and meditating on the Eight Precepts. In Malaysia, the Wesak ceremony will begin at dawn where the Buddhist devotees and monks gather at Buddhist temples nationwide to meditate on the Eight Precepts and sing hymns in praise of the holy triple gem which is The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings) and The Sangha (his disciples). The highlight of the day surely will be the candlelight procession which includes traditional lion and dragon dances, and colourful floats.
The Wesak Day Parade in Kuala Lumpur normally takes place at the famous Buddhist Temple Maha Vihara in Brickfields. The parade follows the same route almost every year; passing by Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Bukit Bintang and back to Brickfields again. During the event, thousands of birds, insects, and animals are released as a symbol of liberation by granting freedom to those who were imprisoned, captured, or tortured against their will.
Celebrating Wesak Day Online
This year’s celebration is quite different, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But don’t worry! The Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA) has prepared two series of online programs for all devotees to celebrate Wesak Day in their respective homes concurrently following the cancellation of the annual Wesak Day celebrations. The Malaysian Buddhist Association will also upload videos on the bathing of the Buddha statue and cultivating merits, recorded by the teachers and Sangha of Malaysian Buddhist Institute for public viewing. They also stated that although the public is not able to go to temples to bathe the Buddha statue, they can still participate online in these auspicious activities at home. Watch all this Live on Malaysia Buddhist Association Facebook. Also all the activities for the ceremony areas listed below.
2020 Online Wesak Day Festival Activities
9am-10am : 早课 Morning Chanting
10am-1pm : 浴佛上供 Bathing of the Buddha Statue and offering
1:30pm-4pm : 浴佛 Bathing of Buddha Statue
4pm-7pm : 晚课 Evening Chanting
7:30pm-8:30pm : 礼拜八十八佛、忏悔及拜愿 88 Buddhas Repentance
8:30-12:00am : 浴佛 Bathing of the Buddha Statue